Ayurveda-The meaning of Ayurveda
Ayurveda: The Ancient Medicine System from India
Ayurveda is one of the oldest organized systems of medicine.
Ayurveda originated in India more than 5000 years ago. In ancient times it was named after The Great King Bharat. Bharat also means “the land of prosperity and fulfillment“.
Since then, it has been practiced in India and Indian subconscious.
Ayurveda also spread to foreign countries like Turkey (during the time of the Ottoman Empire) through merchants. Buddhist monks carried concepts of Ayurveda to eastern countries like China, Japan, Sri Lanka etc.
It is believed that Ayurveda developed as Unani Medicine (Arabic Medicine System) and served as a base of Chinese Medicine. The famous Acupressure also Acupuncture therapies of Chinese Medicine are supposed to be derived from the Shalakaya Tantra (the system of treatment through needles), one of the 8 branches of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is the first medical science that was specifically divided into 8 specialized branches-General medicine (Kayachikitsa), surgery (Shalya), needle treatment (on vital points – Shalakya tantra), pediatrics (Kaumarbhratya), toxicology ( Agada tantra ), psychiatry ( Bhuta Vidya),
gerontology (Vajikaran), and preventive medicine (Rasayana).
All these branches produced different schools of Ayurveda. These schools produced physicians specialized in a particular branch of Ayurveda.
The Meaning of Ayurveda
The word Ayurveda is made from two Sanskrit words -`AYUR`-age/duration/life & `VEDA`knowledge/wisdom/science.
These two words contain a lot of meaning separately. According to Charak Samhita – Major text on Ayurvedic General Medicine,`AYUR` is defined as the junction or duration of the time for which 4 elements – Soul, Mind, Senses, Body are in intimate contact with each other.
It is a very important definition that defines the scope of Ayurveda. It means that Ayurveda can treat anyone who comprises a combination of these 4 elements.
Ayurveda can treat not only human beings but also animals and plants. From this definition of `AYUR` emerges the immense scope of Pashvayurveda (veterinary Ayurveda) and Vrikshayurveda (Plant Ayurveda).
Also, this definition marks the scope of Ayurveda. It means that a person in a coma can be treated as all the 4 elements are still synchronized. It means that an infant is a living organism that deserves medical attention. And 5000 years ago, Ayurveda underlined all this information in a single word `AYUR`.
Let`s move to the next word in Ayurveda -`VEDA`. The word `VEDA` springs from the Sanskrit word `VID`, which means -to learn/know/experience. This word contains a deeper meaning. It refers that Ayurveda is not a compilation of information, but is a complete body of science that was seen, understood and experienced by the seers.
In the present context, it implies that Ayurveda should not be taken as random information, but as a structured sequence of knowledge where one truth springs from other.
When we combine these two words, we get the word Ayurveda, which means “The (comprehensive) Science of Life, a science that caters to all form of lives, in all stages of life and offers a solution to all problems of life“.
The definition of Ayurveda according to Charak Samhita states –
“Ayurveda is the science that defines the quality ( righteous or vicious, comfortable or painful life), the duration of each type of life and what is suitable and unsuitable for each type of life“.
Thus, Ayurveda covers all aspects of life. Since all the ancient Indian sciences had a single focus, to ensure the liberation of the soul, Ayurveda is no exception to that. Therefore, it primarily defines whether a life will lead to salvation ( right life), or lead to bondage and rebirth ( vicious life).
Ayurveda helps to improve physical, mental and spiritual planes, is a complete health science that caters not only the Body but also the Mind and Spirit.
Ayurveda and Yoga Interconnection
Ayurveda and Yoga are considered sister science. However, their relationship is much deeper and intertwined with each other. It is important to understand the roles of Ayurveda and Yoga in the Vedic system which brings in your life balance and joy.
Yoga, as popularly known in the western world, is a structured set of exercises to maintain a healthy body.
Yoga is more than exercises, Yoga means Union, the union between You and Universe, between You and another life.
Yoga postures help a person to align the energies of his body to his life force and thus help to attain and maintain a state of perfect health.
In Vedas, it is referred in the context of the ultimate union “The Union with the Divine“.
According to Ashtanga yoga ( 8 limbed yoga ), there are 8 steps towards achieving the liberation from the physical form -Yama ( external discipline ), Niyama (internal discipline), Pratyahara (alignment of the life force), Dharana (containment), Dyana (focus the ultimate), Samadhi (union with the Divine ).
Yoga postures are only one part of this sequence – asana.
Both Yoga and Ayurveda were intended for the welfare of the righteous – Sattvic people, people who are good, pure. Yoga was meant to help them attain liberation and Ayurveda was meant to help them have a long and healthy life, which they could devote in search of the ultimate truth.
According to Hindu religious scriptures, human life is a disorder that can be cured by union with the divine.
Yoga addresses this higher needs. Yoga is for the noble beings who wish to achieve liberation from the cycle of rebirth. The first luxury is a healthy body, and the greatest misfortune is a sickly and painful life.
Here, Ayurveda comes to the rescue of all beings, relieving them from the shackles of diseases so that they can fulfill their destiny. Ayurveda is for everyone who wishes to have a healthy soul, mind, body.
Therefore, in a way, if yoga is the shoot of the plant that grows towards the light of the Supreme Being, Ayurveda is the root that holds the structure of the physical existence so that the plant of life can grow and prosper!
Preventive Ayurveda and Yoga
That was regarding Yoga – The Union with The Devine. The modern yoga is mostly physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Health has 3 major contributors – food, lifestyle, and mental stability.
Ayurveda provides information about healthy food and lifestyle. Modern Yoga and Ayurveda has an interesting overlap regarding healthy and mental peace.
Yoga and its philosophy are one of the important pillars of preventive Ayurveda.
The first 2 of the eight parts of yoga:
*Yama ( external discipline)
– Ahimsa – nonviolence
– Satya – truthfulness
– Asteya – not stealing
– Brahmacharya – unprejudiced conduct
– Aparigraha – the absence of possessiveness
* Nyama ( internal discipline )
– Shaucha – self-purification
– Santosha – contentment
– Tapas – self-discipline
– Svadhyaya – self-study
– Ishvara Prnidhana – self-surrender
These virtues are strong assets for mental tranquility.
Yogic asanas (postures) provide physical exercise as well as a sense of calmness. Thus, when we combine modern yoga and Ayurveda, we get a complete package for a perfect health.
Curative Ayurveda and Yoga
Yoga helps not only to prevent diseases but also to cure them. Like Ayurvedic General medicine, the effect of yoga is not confined to one organ or one organ system of the body.
Yoga is like an internal massage for all the body organs. In Ayurveda and Yoga, the entire body is treated as one entity.
Therefore, Yoga becomes an important part of Curative Ayurveda in almost all diseases. However, the special significance of Yoga is seen in orthopedic, nervous and hormonal disorders.
* Yoga asanas help to give a real stretch to the muscle, settle the tendons and ligaments and align all body organs in their proper position.
* The distinctive characteristic of yoga is the long duration of time for which an asana is held by the practitioner.
Maintaining the body in one posture for a significant duration helps to activate the Marma – vital points in the body. The pressure generated by the yogic asanas help to remove the blockages in the plexuses and to balance the nervous system.
* Yogic asanas sustained pressure on the Marma ( vital points) in internal organs like pancreas, liver, spleen, intestines, kidneys etc. This pressure helps to increase the blood supply and nervous co-ordination in organs, thus accelerating the overall rate of metabolism.
* Yoga helps to relieve stress, anxiety, anger, and negative emotions that can aggravate the disease symptoms.